Police in Chester, supported by 'Chester Against Business Crime', are tackling the seasonal problem of purse snatches by handing out bells to shoppers that will alert them if anyone interferes with, or tries to open their handbag.
Funding has been provided for 1000 bells, which will be distributed through local charity shops. PCSO Carl Humphries said, "These are a strong deterrent for would-be purse thieves. People will be able to attach a pair of small bells to the zip of their purse. Then if anyone tries to grab the purse the owner and people nearby are immediately alerted by the noise."
Although this initiative is only running in the Chester area, it struck me as a genius idea in its simplicity. At this time of year, it is easy to find jingle bells amongst all the Christmas decorations available, and an outlay of what is likely to be less than £1 could stop you being a target of purse dippers.
We can get carried away with the hustle and bustle of Christmas and, surrounded by the warm glow of seasonal goodwill, it is easy to forget that sadly there are always both professional thieves and opportunists for whom this is a highly profitable time of year. Some simple precautions can help prevent you becoming a victim of Christmas crime when out shopping in Macclesfield this year.
With or without bells on, make sure you keep your purse secure in your bag at all times, and your bag close to your body. Wallets are best kept in inside pockets, and wrapping a couple of thick rubber bands around a wallet makes it much more difficult to 'slide' out of a pocket, either accidentally or with help from a thief.
Be vigilant at cash machines; be alert to anyone hanging around the machine before you approach it, make sure no one can see you entering your PIN and don't walk away with cash in your hand for all to see.
Credit card crime not only involves someone stealing your card, but also skimming. This method of illegally obtaining your card details by swiping your card through a small card reader could happen anywhere you pay with a credit card. Do not allow sales assistants or restaurants to take your card away for swiping; if the machine is located elsewhere on the premises, you have every right to go with them.
Make sure you park your car in a well lit, public place. Never leave anything visible inside your vehicle - to a thief it's just a glass display case on wheels! Avoid carrying too many bags around with you, as the more you have the more vulnerable you are to street crime. If you return to your vehicle to unload shopping, make sure it is securely locked, out of sight, in the boot.
If you stop for a drink or a bite to eat never ever leave your bags unattended, not even for a moment... a few seconds is all it takes for the opportunist to strike.
Ideally, if you're planning a mammoth Christmas shop then it is best to have a friend or family member with you - you can never have too many eyes, ears and arms! And by way of a thank you to them, a wee tipple of something warming at the end of a hard day's shopping in Macclesfield will be just reward for all... happy shopping!
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